Toro Y Moi, the electro-pop project belonging to 24-year-old Chazwick Bundick, has just finished his tour with Foals in the UK. Named during a family road trip when he was fifteen, Toro Y Moi, meaning ‘the bull and me’, consists of lo-fi melodies and electro-funk instrumentals.
Hailing from South Carolina, Chaz is already set to drop his new album Underneath the Pine on February 22, just a year after his debut LP Causers of This (2010). He also plans to release more records on his solo-side project Les Sins, containing stronger elements of Italo disco and house music.
The electro-pop artist stepped on stage at Birmingham’s O2 Academy to a crowd in eager anticipation for Foals. Accompanied by Andy Woodward (percussion) and Patrick Jeffords (bass), Toro Y Moi successfully produced a sound that greatly differing to the LP. The crowd were treated with distorted electronic loops complemented by a slick drum beat and funky bass-lines.
The performance had a chilled atmosphere, with the crowd hooked and swaying to the rhythms. For all who were there to experience the show, Talamak was undoubtedly the most favoured song of the set. It was slickly put together, with Chazwick commanding the bouncing beat with an array of effect pedals and a keyboard. The song created an electric sense of enjoyment which buzzed through the crowd. Chazwick felt no need to dwell upon his first LP. In fact, the majority of his set contained unreleased songs. Whether these were experimental, or planned for release on the upcoming album, they highlighted Toro Y Moi’s strongest qualities and held the defined electronic features that are becoming a trademark of Chazwick’s music.
The set offered a completely different sound to Foals, yet it provided an enigmatic sound which set the crowd in the perfect mood for the main performance.
Before his set, I made my way backstage with Chazwick’s European Tour Manager. ‘He’s just sound checking at the moment’, Michael told me, as a muffled Low Shoulder reverberated through the walls. I took a seat on the black sofa in his changing room, next to a crate of Heineken in one corner, which were opposite a couple of Macbooks scattered on a table. Chazwick entered soon after with the words ‘it’s sounding good!’ He was wearing his clear-framed glasses and spoke softly with a South Carolinan accent. We sat down on the sofa and I began the interview.
ATS: How did you start making music?
CB: It was when I was really young in school, when it came to lessons and stuff I would like practice, and it just came to me like memorising stuff, and so I just started memorising songs to cover, in my bedroom mostly, and it just ended up with me making riffs to me remembering what I was playing.
ATS: Who would you say were your influences at that point?
CB: Bands like Weezer, especially their Blue Album and a lot of 80s and 70s punk stuff. I would say that when I started making Causers of This, my influences had evolved. Those influences were more Hip-hop orientated and much more recent.
ATS: So you graduated from University of South Carolina with a BFA in Graphic Design, and now you’re touring with Foals. Did you ever imagine this happening?
CB: Hm, no, I was planning on getting a job. [laughs] Yeah, this is fun and really cool. Definitely better than being in an office, I guess!
ATS: Many fans consider Talamak to be a beautifully shot video, how did you go about producing that?
CB: Yeah, I’m glad they think that. That was a friend from back home, and he just pretty much offered to make a video, and he had like nice equipment and quality and stuff, and we just decided to give it a shot and it turned out really well.
ATS: A lot of blogs like Hipster Runoff would class you as a chillwave artist, would you agree with title?
CB: Oh, no!
Well, not really. I’ve kinda gotten past that sound. All that stuff is really good music, like Ernest Green (Washed Out) and Neon Indian. I’m a big fan of all of that, but I think that was just a small little period where we all were, coincidentally.
ATS: Was ‘Causers of This’ years in the making?
CB: Just about a year, nothing too crazy long! It was hard because I was doing it in between tour, and trying to figure out how to write stuff that sounded similar, yet different… It was really challenging, but equally fun.
ATS: Which music blogs do you read?
CB: I have a good amount of them lined up in my favourites. I like Gorilla vs Bear, that one’s good. And Pitchfork is pretty much the go-to for news. It’s hard because all of the blogs are recycled stuff. For contemporary kinda music, I like to go to Pitchfork & Gorilla vs Bear.
ATS: Do you see yourself producing music for other artists in the future?
CB: Yeah, probably composing and producing sounds fun. Producing films and stuff, that would also be cool.
ATS: Would you ever be interested in using your degree for the world of fashion?
CB: Yeah in a way. I know that I’m really familiar with design and stuff… That is something I would definitely want to get involved with.
ATS: How did you project Les Sins come about?
CB: I made that because while I was touring, Toro Y Moi was getting categorized as house music and I was getting called a DJ. I wanted to make a completely new project that wasn’t Toro Y Moi, so that people know that this project is for dance music and DJing and Toro Y Moi is more personal, intimate music.
ATS: How difficult is it to produce music for Les Sins in comparison to Toro Y Moi?
CB: It’s probably the same process, I mean, there are different processes because when you’re doing stuff like that it doesn’t sound like the sound changes a lot but it changes a lot. It’s hard to make a mechanical sounding song sound organic and to give it some life, and still make it catchy. So that’s the challenging part.
ATS: How have you found working with Foals?
CB: Oh, these guys are really nice! We’ve just been hanging out pretty much after the shows or before the shows. Really nice guys. I knew they had a big following here. Looking at the venues and stuff it was all academies, it was a big step up.
ATS: Do you keep much contact with your contemporaries?
CB: Yeah totally, we just saw Neon Indian and we were hanging out with them in Iceland. And Ernest, yeah we’re really good friends, we call each other often.
ATS: What are the most challenging aspects of your career?
CB: Just travelling, and the pace of it, is pretty much the most brutal part. It’s like a rollercoaster, so fast, and you only get a couple of months off out of the year. That’s the toughest part. Other than that, it’s not a hard job. It’s just an odd job, and not the healthiest for your body, you sit in cars all day and you eat. And then maybe you sweat for an hour [laughs], it’s the only exercise you get. You have to find your right routine. What I enjoy the most is just the fact that I get to play music, it’s you know something I love to do.
ATS: Where do you see yourself in the future?
CB: Probably just still recording and making music, I want to get a little bit more involved in the design world. I design all of my record covers pretty much and even the web ads and everything. I’d like to dwell a little bit more in the design world.
Chazwick Bundick is set to drop his second LP Underneath the Pine in February 2011. As an incredibly talented individual and a true pioneer in his genre, he is definitely one to remember.
Check out his blogs below: